Jesse Andrews’ ‘The Haters’ Offers Lesson in Humility
Ever wonder what it’d be like to embark on a summer tour with your best friend and a girl you just met? Or how you’d survive an entire two weeks with no cell phone or Internet access? Want to know why Thundergarment is a terrible band name? Jesse Andrews’ 2016 young adult novel “The Haters” has you covered.
Protagonist Wesley and Corey are best friends. When the chance to escape their summer jazz camp hell presents itself, they take off with ring leader Ash on an impromptu summer tour of the American South. The three 19-year-olds bring with them only their instruments, leaving everything else behind, including their cell phones.
Much of their tour consists of smoking weed and playing music at tiny Chinese restaurants. Wesley and Corey hang on cool-girl Ash’s every word as she leads them on their journey. Together they stay at strangers’ houses and drink with country singers.
Over the course of the summer, conflicted bass player and quintessential follower Wesley finds himself in a constant state of uncertainty. His quest is to find music so good, it can’t be “hated on.” From Vampire Weekend to Kool and the Gang to Kanye though, Wes is here to tell you all of the reasons your favorite musicians suck.
Somehow, there’s a character even more pretentious than Wes. Ash is the edgy, alternative girl Wes and Corey meet at camp. She’s self-destructive and sexually confused and not your stereotypically pretty girl, and for some reason, guys in young adult novels always think that’s hot.
A simple story of a boy and a girl in a not-so-typical situation, “The Haters” is Andrews’ second book. After the success of his first, “Me, Earl and the Dying Girl,” Andrews began writing “The Haters,” which was released on April 5, 2016. Reminiscent of John Green, Andrews’ writing style is authentic and full of personality.
If you ignore the typical “awkward-guy-falls-in-love-with-cool-girl” trope and the overabundance of dick jokes, “The Haters” is a story centered on music and its power to bring people together. A group of self-appointed experts who actually play very little music talk a big game. Wes can spend three pages debating what makes Pharrell a bad musician but fails to articulate what makes a good one.
The story wraps up in about five pages. This abrupt ending doesn’t afford the reader, let alone the characters, enough time to experience closure. It’s as if Andrews never bothered to think of an ending, panicked and then jotted something down to get it over with.
Even though the story comes across unsophisticated, this is intentional of its characters. “The Haters” is a commonplace coming-of-age tale written for those, well, coming of age. Andrews explores the struggles of three young people through the lens of music and Southern culture. He keeps readers entertained with wit and humor. “The Haters” is a fun and charming story that just about anybody who’s been 19 before can enjoy.